The Rocky Mountain Research Station has a core group of scientists working to provide land managers with the latest research and strategies around invasive species. The research covers a number of invasive species of concern, including cheatgrass, leafy spurge, spotted knapweed, white pine blister rust, Armillaria root disease pathogens, as well as rainbow, brook, and brown trout. In general, exotic plants and aquatic organisms present great threats due to the sheer number of invaders; however, certain pathogens and terrestrial insects have high impacts on trees and forests.
The team, also known as the Invasive Species Working Group, just released the latest issue of its Invasive Species Science Update. This issue highlights the global problem of secondary weed invasion, explores the effect of drought on pollinator attraction, and offers new insights into a little-known weed in the West, the common buckthorn. Common buckthorn is a large shrub native to Europe that heavily invades wetter habitats in the Northeast and northern Midwest of the United States. In the more arid West, buckthorn exists in scattered populations that reflect a legacy of horticultural plantings and may represent the early invasion stages of a potentially high-impact exotic. However, the status of buckthorn is unclear in the West, where it has been largely unstudied.
The ISWG is made up of many specialists, including research entomologists, pathologists and ecologists. They work together to synthesize research on invasive species, make science results more accessible, identify research needs, and promote tools and technologies for management.